Going The Last Mile

We hired a landscaper last fall to clear and level our side yard. I didn’t really need more lawn to mow, but we build an ice skating rink each year and I wanted a more level surface to work with.  That’s what I told the landscaper.

I got home the night after the work was done, however, and the lawn wasn’t level.  Not bad for a lawn, but when you’ve got a 60′ x 35′ rink, even a little slope adds up to a lot. So I called the landscaper to see if we could do anything to improve it.

Yikes.  He wasn’t hearing it. The work was done, the seed was thrown and he argued that I didn’t explicitly state that it had to be 100% level (I didn’t).  We went back and forth for about 10 minutes until finally I just said “forget it.”   I’m not even sure what I was looking for from him, but certainly more than a stone wall from a guy who clearly wanted to move on.

Today, six months later, a neighbor called and asked about “the guy who did your landscaping.” She has a project in mind and wanted a recommendation.  So I told her my story.  She thanked me for the warning.

First impressions certainly matter, but last impressions do too. Maybe even more, since that’s what we seem to remember.  I don’t think about how nice the landscaper was initially, how he accommodated our schedule to get the work done, the price he charged, or even the quality of the lawn.  I just remember that last conversation we had. When my neighbor asked for my opinion, the word of mouth train stopped cold.

Even after the work is done, you have the opportunity to send clients off singing your praises or send them off telling others to “watch out.”  The easiest — and yet in some ways the hardest — part of a job is the end, when you make sure you don’t disengage until you’re sure your client is happy.

1 thought on “Going The Last Mile

  1. Lissa Bergin-Boles

    So true – and seems like another lesson in ‘Real Relationship 101’. An uncommon less, at that.
    I was always taught (and many still are, it seems) to focus on first impressions cause the object is to get the business (or whatever). But I’ve learned that the ‘getting’ gets a whole lot easier – and becomes a natural kind of happens-on-its-own thing – if my focus isn’t just on getting business but on the other person’s experience, and on giving really, really great service.


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